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Zen Out: 8 Ways To Design a Calming Home

For many Modsy customers, a zen home design with minimal furnishings, colors, and objects is the ultimate modern haven. Creating a zen resting place is a way to escape the chaos of the outside world and create a home space that’s grounding—helping you reclaim your inner peace.

large living room designed with two facing sofas flanking a large fireplace, burl wood coffee table, minimal decor, and a neutral color scheme

What Is Zen Interior Design?

When you think of zen interior design, you might think of a spa, where water features, plants, and ambient music abound. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Zen interior design originated in Japan and is deeply connected to the practice of meditation. In the world of interior design, it’s all about using a minimalist approach to create an environment that is balanced, harmonious, and relaxing.

Zen style draws inspiration from the actual practices of Zen, as well as the incorporation of nature into your decor. (Biophilic interior design, anyone??)

So, what does this look like in action? Organic modern design and Japandi interior design are both great examples. This involves rooms that use natural materials throughout and feel serene at every turn; calming hues that soothe the senses; and simple, streamlined furniture that play up the ‘less is more’ aesthetic. All of these elements come together for a home that inspires rest and relaxation from the moment you step inside.

But even though the look is minimal, sometimes finding the right pieces to get this look at home can be a challenge. So, for some quick inspiration and guidance, we’re breaking down the zen home look here, offering some zen design ideas to help you build a calm, quiet retreat filled with style.

zen living room design with a gray sectional sofa, lots of natural materials, neutral decor, and an open inviting layout

1. Get Comfy With Clean Lines

A calm home is a comfortable home. So when it comes to furniture for a zen room, choose pieces that have simple forms but are big on comfort. A large sectional with clean lines is a great foundation for a zen living room, while a sleek sofa works perfectly in a smaller space. Carry this approach over to minimalist ottomans and accent tables as well!

Bonus points for using natural textiles like linen, cotton, and wool in your fabrics and upholstery, which will help you strike the perfect balance of smooth and soft in your space.

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zen living room design with neutral color scheme, gray sectional sofa, plants, and wood accent furniture

2. Opt For a Soothing Palette

Warm neutral colors, pastels, and earth tones all have a way of instilling calm in a home, so lean into those shades and explore the entire spectrum. Think foggy grays with seafoam green, lavender with sherbert orange, and light wood tones with off-white upholstery. Keeping to soft, dreamy hues will create a soothing vibe throughout your zen room.

Want to learn more about color theory and why some colors are more soothing than others? Check out our podcast episode on environmental psychology!

neutral living room design full of natural materials, minimal styling, and a gray brick fireplace

3. Minimize Clutter

A cluttered space is the antithesis of calm. And a zen home is all about stripping things away and being thoughtful about what you do bring into your space. You don’t have to Marie Kondo your rooms, but try to edit down your belongings and furnishings. Use this zen bedroom storage furniture as inspiration. Or invest in hidden storage pieces to limit the number of things you have on display.

Reducing clutter, along with the next few tips, is where you’ll start seeing a lot of overlap with zen design and the principles of feng shui.

neutral living room design with a soothing color palette, minimal styling, and abstract art

4. Simplify Your Styling

Minimal styling goes hand-in-hand with banishing clutter. With the objects and furnishings that you do keep and showcase, try not to over-style. That means displaying only a few select objects on tables and shelving, adding just a few pillows to your sofa, and not overcrowding your walls with art. It’s a minimalist approach that will create breathing room within your spaces.

blue bedroom design with sleek furniture, neutral decor, lots of plants, and natural textures

5. Invite Greenery Inside

Plants inspire calm and happiness, and rooms with greenery can also add a bit of life to your spaces. We love decorating with plants and greenery as a way to add color to minimalist spaces. Not to mention they are natural air purifiers! Not sure where to start? Check out our houseplant guide. Or take inspiration from this room and try bringing in a few tall plants to liven up empty corners in a modern zen bedroom!

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zen bedroom design with blue walls, neutral decor, shelf gallery wall, and plants

6. Let In Lots Of Natural Light

A dark, cave-like interior doesn’t exactly inspire a zen feel. If you have big windows, choose your window coverings wisely. Skip the heavy drapes or opt for sheers to let in lots of natural light. Don’t have a ton of windows? Spread some dim lighting throughout your rooms. If you’re trying to figure out how to choose lighting for your space, we like the three-tier approach: A lamp on a table or console, a floor lamp in a corner, and sconces on your walls. Or, layer lots of candlelight, which always lend a sense of calm to spaces.

zen living room design in neutral color scheme, lots of natural materials, and a symmetrical layout

7. Find Balance and Harmony

Creating balance and harmony in the way you lay out your space is a simple way to make your home feel more zen. A symmetrical layout is a great way to achieve this. Symmetry helps visually organize your space and creates a sense of stability in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, think in pairs: two chairs, two poufs, matching accent tables, you name it!

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modern zen living room design with a green sofa and white kitchen in the background

8. Explore Sound and Smell

Zen practice involves incorporating the sounds of nature and other soothing sounds to your home. Consider adding wind chimes outside your front door, or playing meditation music inside if the noise outside your window isn’t soothing.

Smell is another huge factor in creating a zen home. You want your space to reflect natural and calming smells. A simple way to incorporate these scents is through diffusing oils or burning candles or incense.

Designer Tip: If you have pets, keep their beds and possessions clean and put away to minimize any animal smells in your home.

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5 Looks Inspired By Our Top Summer Destinations

This summer, we took a virtual Modsy road trip across the country and explored the design styles that underscore some of our favorite cities along the way.

From the rustic charms of California’s Sonoma wine region to the coastal island beauty of Nantucket, Massachusetts, we drew from five summer destinations and imagined what our dream home would look like in each place. In the end, we came out deeply inspired by the varying design aesthetics of each location and can’t wait to work them into our own spaces.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably caught on that we just can’t get enough of these inspired looks. If not, here’s a start-to-finish recap of all five cities and their signature styles, along with some quick tips to help you bring the looks into your home.

Modsy road tripSonoma, California

The Style: Rustic Wine Country Comfort

How To Get the Look: Simplicity and a casual, open layout are keys to mastering this cool, California look.

The furniture: White slipcovered sofas mixed with earthy wood tables and stools, plus plenty of rich textures and woven details. The palette: Crisp, soothing whites with warm neutrals that come from natural materials. The finishing touches: Traditional patterns in subtle earth tones and lots of woven accents, like natural fiber rugs, wicker storage, and basketweaves.

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modsy road tripSanta Fe, New Mexico

The Style: Earthy Southwestern Cool

How To Get the Look: It’s all about rich hues and organic materials when it comes to nailing the Southwestern vibe.

The furniture: A few big modern design pieces (leather sofa and cool lounge chairs) layered with geometric patterns and boho elements. The palette: Rich, warm colors that draw from Santa Fe’s desert landscape. So think burnt oranges, rusty reds, deep browns, and all shades of earth tones. The finishing touches: Organic shapes throughout, from abstract art to cowhide rugs, global prints, and a vibrant layering of greenery big and small.

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modsy road tripWaco, Texas

The Style: Polished Farmhouse Elegance

How To Get the Look: Sophisticated furnishings and gorgeous materials are at the heart of this Texas farmhouse look inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

The furniture: Deep sofas in classic shapes balanced with rustic-industrial designs, like a heavy-weight bookcase and metal pendant lights. The palette: A soothing take on blue and white (and off whites) supported by light wood tones and natural materials. The finishing touches: Beautiful textures everywhere. Think pillows with delicate ribbing, woven ottomans, grainy wood, and tarnished metal vessels.

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modsy road tripNashville, Tennessee

The Style: Colorful Southern Eclecticism

How To Get the Look: Eclectic glamour sums up our idea of bright and bold Nashville style.

The furniture: Classic furnishings updated with modern hues. Think pink armchairs, along with chic tables and lighting made with sleek materials. The palette: Vibrant colors from eclectic art and textiles that playfully clash. Rosy florals with blue geometrics, hide rugs on vintage carpets check all the boxes. The finishing touches: Vintage accents and details complete this eclectic-chic style, from busts to acrylic bar carts topped with memorabilia along with salvaged artworks and prints.

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modsy road tripNantucket, Massachusetts

The Style: Classic Coastal Charm

How To Get the Look: Nantucket’s graceful island charm is exemplified by its furnishings that balance elegance and ease.

The furniture: Lean into the power of pairs, from over-sized, clean-lined sofas with slipcovers and rattan side tables to matching woven armchairs. The palette: Blue and white all the way. And make it bold and crisp, meaning stick to navy and deep ocean blues for your patterned pillows and rug. The finishing touches: There’s no shortage of nautical motifs and nods to the ocean here. So pile on the shells, coral, seahorses, and, of course, stripes!

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Layout Guide: Two Ways to Fill a Large Open Living Room

large open living room layout ideasIn our “Layout Guides” series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. Often the trickiest part of designing a space, finding the right layout for your room can be a challenge. This week we’re looking at a large open living room and finding two layouts that make use of the open space.

The Space: A 20×25 large open living room

Style: Rustic Warmth

The Challenge: Designing a large open living room with a fireplace and floor to ceiling windows on every wall.

We talk a lot about the trials of designing small spaces – but large, open rooms can be just as tricky! Filling a big space requires some smart planning to make sure that the space feels functional, has flow, and doesn’t feel like a large empty room. In addition to having the right furniture for a large, open living room, you also want to find a layout that makes the best use of the space. Check out the following ideas for outfitting this huge living room with a layout that works.

large open living roomIdea #1: The TV Viewing Layout

Layout #1 for our large open living room, centers around a 4-piece sectional sofa – the perfect solution for a room of this size. Instead of pushing it against the wall (which might be your first instinct), we floated the sectional in the middle of the room. This not only helps fill up the space, but it also better accommodates TV viewing by moving the seating closer to the TV.

In addition to the large size, all the walls in this room have windows, which is a real design challenge. Pulling the sofa away from the walls is a great solve for this conundrum. Plus, you can use the space behind the sofa for a kids’ play area that’s part of the main living room action but doesn’t take over the space.

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Why This Large Open Living Room Layout Works

We chose an L-shaped sectional because it creates the ideal layout where both the TV and fireplace are focal points of the room. To make use of the open space diagonal from the sofa, we included an intimate conversation corner. This makes use of the open space next to the fireplace and provides extra seating.

Additionally, the swivel chairs offer flexibility to the design. They chairs can face each other, turn toward the fireplace, or swivel toward the center of the room. It’s the perfect living room layout for creating flow and functionality in a large living room.

large open living roomThis Is Great If You…

  • Want a living room with plenty of seating options.
  • Like an ideal setup for TV viewing and cozying around the fireplace.
  • Need a tucked away space for kids to play.
  • Love maintaining the wide, open flow of the space.

large open living roomIdea #2 – The Entertaining Layout

If you love entertaining at home, this is a great setup for you. The design makes use of two sofas and two armchairs for plenty of comfy seating. The twin sofas feel more formal than a sectional, but provide just as many seats.

This layout for our large open living room directs the focus to the center of the room so that the fireplace and view outside are on full display. A great multi-purpose space hack, the backs of the sofas also help divide the room and create a distinct “living zone” even while the room is completely open.

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Why This Large Open Living Room Layout Works

A bench behind the sofa adds extra storage and helps create distinction between the living room and the space behind it. And you can always pull the bench into the main living area for extra seating in a pinch! The two poufs can be used as footrests for the armchairs or as additional seating as well.

Potted plants on opposite sides of the room help to fill the empty corners and add a pop of color to the space. The layered rugs are a great choice for a large room because the smaller rug on top adds pattern and color, while the jute rug underneath helps add coverage and texture. Plus, jute is much more affordable, especially in sizes as large as this room calls for.

large open living room layoutThis Is Great If You…

  • Need a room with tons of seating.
  • Love to entertain at home.
  • Don’t want a TV to be the center of attention in your living room.
  • Like a clean, uncluttered look with neutral tones.
  • Want a more formal vibe than a casual sectional sofa provides.

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Destination Style: Get Bold With Eclectic Nashville Style

Nashville Style To celebrate summer, we’re taking inspiration from the all-American tradition of a cross-country road trip. We’ll be making our way across the USA and exploring some of our favorite cities and their signature design styles along the way. Buckle up and get ready for some major destination design inspo. Next up: Nashville, Tennessee!

Home to country music and inventive southern food, Nashville has come up as a must-visit destination that’s equal parts charming and unexpected. The same can be said of the city’s style and interior design aesthetic, as model Lily Aldridge’s bright boho home proves. Full of color and every bit eclectic and glamorous, Aldridge’s home epitomizes our idea of Nashville style.

These spaces are just the right amount of over-the-top but still maintain lots of classic southern influences. Here you’ll find a blend of traditional furnishings, vintage-style designs, and lots of art and glamorous design notes. There’s no shortage of punchy prints and colorful upholstery and accents here. These rooms are just as eclectic as they are havens for lounging and entertaining.

Inspired by Aldridge’s electrically colorful abode as well as the many bold interiors across the city that we’ve spotted all over Instagram and Pinterest, we dreamed up this bold, art-filled space that captures Nashville’s distinct design style. Read on to get our tips for working the Nashville look into your home.

Establish a Flexible Layout

First things first. If you’re looking to bring a bit of southern style into your home, start with a spacious and versatile layout that’s all about easy lounging and entertaining.

For Nashville style, that means seating areas and spaces that are flexible and easy to rearrange. You can do this by pulling armchairs a little farther out from a sofa, adding poufs and ottomans, or simply leaving room to pull in extra seating as needed.

While your furnishings can range from relaxed to formal, a casual approach to your layout will play up a sense of southern hospitality. After all, Nashville style is about interiors that feel vibrant and always inviting, no matter the guest or the occasion.

Nashville StyleChoose Some New Classics

Nashville interiors embrace old and new in vibrant ways. You’ll often find traditional furnishings rendered in contemporary materials, such as pink and green velvet or pillows made with old textiles and kilim rugs. It’s a chic play on classics that we can’t get enough of.

Look for armchairs and sofas that have classic silhouettes but opt for a colorful fabric or modern leg instead. This will be in keeping with the overall eclectic Nashville look while adding a glam touch.

Play With Colorful Clashes

With the Nashville look, there’s definitely no holding back when it comes to mixing color, pattern, and materials. It’s a bolder approach to eclectic style, unlike the more subdued look of Santa Fe. We call it power clashing. AKA piling floral pattern on geometric pattern, layering hide rug on vintage rug, and using unexpected color pairings and combinations.

If you’re not one for bold colors, start with softer tones, such as pale blue, sea foam green, and lavender, which are easier to contrast with darker neutrals. The best place to start? Paint an accent wall in a moody hue that can serve as a focal point and backdrop. Then, layer in those lighter tones through furnishings and accents.

Set a Stage for Vintage

To play up an eclectic vibe, pull in a mix of vintage and vintage-inspired designs and group them together to create vignettes that are filled with quirky character and whimsy. Think lots of cheeky decorative touches, funky artwork, and furniture from different periods. We love the look of these antique chairs mixed with a Hollywood Regency-style bar cart.

Mix in Glamorous Elements

And speaking of Hollywood Regency style, Nashville’s eclectic charm is balanced with just the right amount of glamorous details. These are the eye-catching accent touches that truly captivate amid the mix of color and pattern.

It can be the brass detailing of a picture frame, lampshade, or bar cart; it might be the leopard print cushions on a pair of chairs; or it can be the nailhead trim the lines a sofa. The idea is to work in these moments of glimmer and shine as a way to complement the overall colorful decor mix.

Go for the Gallery Wall (Always)

The best way to infuse color, especially if you’re reluctant to go bold with your furniture, is to create a punchy gallery wall that mixes all kinds of art. Alongside a mix of patterned pillows, a curated mix of art will add a playful, whimsical look to your space.

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How to design an industrial space that you actually want to live in

eclectic industrial styleWe love the industrial loft look. But, let’s be honest, no one really wants to live in a cold concrete box, no matter how trendy it might look. A chilly, grey warehouse featuring exposed brick and steel might sound great for a showroom or auto repair shop – but who wants that kind of chilly aesthetic in their home? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to incorporate your favorite design elements of industrial style into a living space that feels warm and cozy too!

What is Industrial Style?

First things first, let’s talk about what really makes the industrial look tick. Industrial style is a distinctive blend of ultra-modern sleekness and old-world charm. Picture big, open spaces with stripped back architectural details, neutral colors, and raw materials to the max!

The style is modeled after industrial structures, which have a clean, but very moody and harsh aesthetic. It’s a no-frills look that emphasizes exposing the inner workings of things like hardwood floors, exposed brick and concrete, raw metal elements, and a blend of salvaged and reclaimed materials.

When done right, industrial style creates just the right blend of factory-chic and turn-of-the-century warmth. Here are 10 of our best design tips for bringing an Industrial style home in a cozy and livable way.

comfy industrial style1. Start with Comfy Foundations

When you think of industrial interiors, you probably don’t imagine soft beds, plush sofas, or fluffy blankets. But that doesn’t have to be the case! To design a space that is both industrial and comfortable, start your room off with foundational furniture that prioritizes comfort. A plush sofa with sleek lines adds comfort but still feels on-brand with the industrial vibe.

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eclectic industrial style2. Mix Materials and Textures

Industrial style means only using stone, steel, and concrete, right? Absolutely not! You don’t have to use all harsh metals and hardworking materials all of the time. Industrial style loves a variety of raw and distressed elements, so feel free to experiment. For example, a mix of distressed leather furniture and jute accessories adds visual warmth and depth to help make your space feel more liveable (think more “my house” and less “warehouse”). Just stick to a limited color palette so your look doesn’t feel too busy.

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organic industrial style3. Soften the Look with Organic Shapes

While we love it, there’s no denying that industrial style can get a little carried away with the hard lines and sharp edges. One way to soften it up? Add in some organic and/or abstract art and accessories to help break up the austerity. Artwork featuring soft, organic designS or abstract shapes works great as a centerpiece above a sofa or mantle.

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plush rug ideas4. Cozy Up with a Plush Rug

You might not equate soft, plush items with industrial style, but it’s important to add cozy touches to rooms that feel chilly and severe. A soft, fluffy wool rug underfoot instantly cozies up even the most serious of spaces. This option (one of our designers’ favorites) has a minimal, geometric pattern and neutral color to maintain the industrial look while adding warmth.

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industrial chic style5. Be Brazen with Brass and Gold Accents

Metal is a huge player in the industrial look. This can quickly start to make a space look pretty foreboding, but an easy swap is to look for warm metals like brass and gold. As opposed to harsh steels and silvers, these elements add warmth without detracting from the industrial look.

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vintage industrial6. Warm it up with Leather

Most people don’t associate industrial with warm, cozy spaces. But remember, this style works best if you take inspiration from factory design as opposed to designing an actual factory! A handsome leather sofa adds texture and softer tones for visual warmth. And antique leather with a patina, helps to tone down the chilliness while keeping the vintage, industrial feel alive and well.

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7. Play with Pattern

Industrial design is all about straightforward, minimalist style – that means sticking with solid combinations of neutral colors. But avoiding patterns altogether can make a space end up looking flat and dreary!  Don’t be afraid to add a touch of organic playfulness with patterned accents, like rugs and pillows. If you make sure to keep your patterns in a soft, neutral color palette, they’ll look perfect in your stylish industrial enclave.

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inviting industrial style8. Accent with Geometry

While industrial design is heavily reliant on sharp lines and right angles, there are ways to bring in these elements without going overboard on the factory look. Bringing in pops of geometry can add industrial flavor without going full steam on the steampunk vibes. The geometric forms in the table lamp and the patterns in the coffee table surface also add industrial flavor without going over the top.

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9. Layer on the Textiles

Another way to soften up an industrial look and make it suitable for comfy living, is to layer on the textiles. Layers add more texture and depth, and this makes the look feel more welcoming and less foreboding. Here we paired a cowhide and jute rug along with plenty of pillows to soften the minimal industrial vibe. Chunky knits, like the throw blanket and woven wall hanging, are also easy adds that will warm up your look.

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industrial style10. Add Color with Plants

While industrial design is often associated with the absence of color, all that grey can start to feel frigid in an open space. An easy way to infuse color into industrial spaces is by adding plants! Plants will bring both greenery and a sense of life to your space but won’t overtake the room with color – it’s the best of both worlds. This is a great way to liven up an industrial space while still keeping the integrity of the style intact.

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Destination Style: Bring Home Eclectic Santa Fe Style

southwest styleTo celebrate summer, we’re taking inspiration from the all-American tradition of a cross-country road trip. We’ll be making our way across the USA and exploring some of our favorite cities and their signature design styles along the way. Buckle up and get ready for some major destination design inspo. Next up: The Southwestern style of Santa Fe, New Mexico!

Adobe homes. Rustic hues. Sumptuous natural materials. These elements combined are what we love about southwestern style. Santa Fe itself has long held irresistible allure for artists and design lovers looking to venture outside of the creative hubs of bigger metropolitan cities. Georgia O’Keeffe famously took up residence in Santa Fe many decades ago, and today her home and art studio are considered one of the country’s most beloved museums.

And when it comes to design, you’ll definitely recognize interiors that celebrate the region’s colorful rustic look that is popular across Instagram and Pinterest: rooms decorated in earthy desert hues, mid-century furnishings, pieces made with natural materials, and pops of tribal and navajo-inspired patterns.

Read on to see how you can bring the layered southwestern look to your own home.

santa fe styleWelcoming Foundations

Not to be confused with the modern farmhouse style of Sonoma, Santa Fe style is rooted in a sense of earthy comfort that is inspired by its history, desert surroundings, and Native American and Spanish design influences. We like to think of it as cozy, modern, and a little funky all at once. To conjure the look in your own home, here are the key foundational elements to keep in mind.

Work with a warm palette

Rather than crisp whites, light neutrals and blue tones, southwestern-style interiors are made up of a richly warm color palette that includes burnt oranges, rusty reds, deep browns, and shades of natural and earth tones. Collectively, the colors add up to a welcoming palette that recalls the arid desert landscape of the Southwest.

Lay out focus areas

Modern southwestern-style spaces are carefully laid out. Rooms often consist of smaller focused areas within a larger living space, such as cozy conversation spots and corners-turned-reading-nooks. To start, try strategically placing your rugs as a way to delineate different spaces and use greenery to create visual distinction between areas.

For instance, a cowhide layered on top of a traditional rug can have the effect of extending your seating area, while a tall cactus or fiddle-leaf ficus tree can inadvertently work as a room divider.

southwest styleEclectic Appeal

Southwestern-style interiors often incorporate a stylish mix of modern design, navajo patterns, and boho touches that result in their colorful and eclectic appeal. And the overall vibe is comfy and inviting but also packed with plenty luxurious textures. Here’s how to blend all these elements into your space

southwest stylePile on the patterns

Because these are the real pops of color, pattern, and texture in Santa Fe-style interiors, you’ll want to make sure you bring in pieces you absolutely love and can picture yourself living with. Where to begin? Navajo-inspired pillows, blankets in whimsical motifs, or a geometric kilim rug are all great foundations that you can pull colors from for accents throughout the room.

And you also can’t go wrong with a cowhide rug, which adds instant warmth. (If you can’t tell, we love the look of a hide layered on a bold patterned rug!) And when it comes to choosing art, opt for landscapes or even take an abstract route with graphic paintings and prints; just make sure they stay within the earthy desert color palette.

Think modern, not sleek

For your anchor pieces, opt for mid-century silhouettes and furniture with modern frameworks. Think chairs with tapered legs, streamlined woven leather armchairs, and even a metal bar cart. The clean-lined appeal of these pieces provides cool contrast to the bright colors and patterns of the accents. Just remember that you want to keep to rustic materials and even seek pieces that show a little patina. Weathered woods, aged leather, or a lightly faded rug are great places to start!

santa fe styleKeep it organic

Opt for natural materials as much as possible in your furnishings and accents. Then extend that ethos to your smaller furniture pieces. Designs with curvy silhouettes and organic shapes are nods to adobe architecture that can help emphasize the southwestern style.

Get your greenery on

Probably the most essential piece of the southwestern style puzzle, no room really says “Santa Fe” without plenty of cacti. So be sure to add plenty of plants that reference the region’s uniquely lush and arid landscape. A large potted cactus alongside mini cacti and other leafy plants add vibrant notes that are essential for rounding out the look.

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Destination Style: Get the Sonoma Wine Country Look

sonoma styleTo celebrate summer, we’re taking inspiration from the all-American tradition of a cross-country road trip. We’ll be traveling across the USA and exploring some of our favorite cities and their signature design styles along the way. Buckle up and get ready for some major destination design inspo. First stop: Sonoma, California!

When you think of Sonoma, California, you can’t help but picture wine country perfection, with its miles of incredible vineyards and farmhouses along the way. Located just north of San Francisco, Sonoma has long been a favorite weekend escape and a wine region that has come to epitomize relaxed-rustic, California style. You know what we’re talking about: Those rustic interiors that are charming, casual, and coolly California.

And if you know us, you know that as San Francsico based interior designers we’re big fans of this modern farmhouse aesthetic. There’s something simple and irresistibly cozy about Sonoma-style spaces that we just can’t get enough of, so we’re endlessly inspired to bring the look home. Read on to see how you can infuse a bit of Sonoma’s rustic charm into your space!

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sonoma styleStart With An Easy Foundation

The rustic-chic Sonoma look is all about the crisp, blank canvas backdrop. And by that we’re referring to the soothing color palette and the open layout and flow that characterizes these spaces. It’s what sets up the space for its cozy but airy look. So, consider these key design elements when establishing the groundwork in your space.

Earth tones only

Before diving into the full-on design and furnishings of a space, when it comes to Sonoma style getting the color palette right is key. Here, earth tones are at the core of the soft rustic palette. Keep to natural hues and light neutrals, like tans, beiges, browns, light woods, which will give your space a visual cohesiveness once you start layering in furnishings and accents.

A casual, edited layout

It’s all about comfort versus formality when it comes to the Sonoma look. Don’t feel like you need to fill out a room completely; what’s important is having a few big inviting pieces. This is one instance where furnishings don’t have to perfectly arranged. An asymmetrical layout, where a sofa is grouped with a chair, is a great way to open up a space and keep things from feeling too formal or thought out. After all, the idea is that your space should feel casual enough that you can move things around easily if needed.

sonoma styleSimple Says It All With Sonoma Style

It goes without saying that the Sonoma-style farmhouse look is one of the most popular looks around, not only here at Modsy, but everywhere, from blogs, to Pinterest, to Instagram. How to think about all the pieces that make up the look in an actual space, though? We know it’s not always as straightforward. Here’s how to furnish for the Sonoma look.

Go easy, breezy on furnishings

Big, comfy white slipcovered sofas and chairs are the anchors in these spaces. Not only are they comfortable and easy to maintain (just toss those covers in the wash when they’re dirty), they also give you a simple base on which you can easily layer tactile accents. In addition to white furnishings, you’ll want to make sure any other big pieces keep to a simple look, so opt for light woods and accents, like a cabinet with woven doors, an ottoman with a vintage-style fabric, or a rattan bar cart.

Pile on accents with textures

A mix of raw woods and accents made with natural materials and simple textures is the way to go. Think small wood stools and side tables (or a wooden wine rack for a subtle nod to wine country!), leather poufs and linen pillows, and lots of woven pieces, like a rope tray and wicker baskets. You want these details to really pop, so the bolder the texture, the better. Our favorite accent to play up? Pottery. Think white ceramics mixed with artisanal vases and vessels and terracotta planters.

Get vintage, baby

It wouldn’t be a Sonoma-inspired space without a few vintage-style pieces layered in. You’ll want to make sure these finds don’t overpower the airy look in a room, so choose a few statement pieces, like a salvaged light fixture or antique mirror. If you’re not one for vintage, newer designs that have vintage appeal can work too. The idea is that you want to create a lived-in and collected feel in your space.

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9 Ways to Design a Rustic Living Room

modern rustic design ideasSo, you think your style is rustic… Designers throw around the term, but it actually can describe a number of different styles. There’s coastal, shabby chic, modern farmhouse, rustic traditional… the list goes on! To help break down the different ways to work the style, we’re serving up 9 rustic design ideas for this small living room.

Read on to explore 9 different rustic spaces and shop the looks for your home!

rustic design ideasRustic Traditional

For the traditional take on rustic, we focused on wooden furniture pieces with traditional shapes and design elements. It’s all about celebrating natural textures and comfy designs in this living room. If you aren’t ready to buy new furniture, you can add a rustic flavor by buying earth-toned drapes and throw pillows.

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rustic design ideasFarmhouse Chic

Lighten up your rustic look with a more feminine take on the style. This look combines traditional shapes and materials with weathered and vintage finishes. Layer on plush textiles and fresh patterns for a more chic, and light look.

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rustic design ideasRustic Warmth

Rustic does not have to mean vintage. Rustic warmth is a contemporary take on the style that is visually striking but physically comfy and cozy. The furniture is sleeker and more modern but is still made out of natural materials.

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modern farmhouse design ideasModern Farmhouse

Modern farmhouse is a take on rustic that has mid-century flair and industrial twist that so many people are drawn to. The styling leans towards minimal with a neutral color palette and raw materials.

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modern rustic design ideasModern Rustic

This variation is a feminine take on the rustic style, which means you can play with color and include pops of warm materials such as gold and brass. Also, go ahead and add hints of modern design while staying true to rustic basics. Take a look at one of our selections: a satin brass rectangular cocktail table. Metals take it to the next level.

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rustic design ideasReclaimed Visionary

This forward-thinking incarnation combines the rustic aesthetic with traditional design. You can enjoy lots of leather and raw materials with minimal color notes and traditional design elements like wrought-iron details and weathered woods.

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rustic design ideasRefined Rustic

Refined rustic is a classic and elegant take on the style that gives off a feminine, cottage vibe. To capture it, you should stick to lighter woods and materials to create a space where fresh flowers can be displayed on the daily. You will enjoy these blooms as you sit in your elegant oatmeal wing chair with solid birch legs – the very definition of refined rustic style.

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modern rustic design ideasVintage Farmhouse

This one is our version of shabby chic. Consider it a feminine, vintage take on rustic style. Feel free to use whimsical design elements against a background of unfinished woods. This is definitely a style where quirk and comfort live in harmony!

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rustic design ideasRustic Traveler

This one is for you rustic lovers with a boho side. Embrace eclectic elements that represent your unique world view. Approach your design with a curatorial lens that reflects your personality.

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Follow our design lead and create a rustic mix specialized to you. Natural materials and colors work with everything. Tune into the earth and bring those comforting vibes into your home. Rustic can be for everyone!

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Layout Guide: 1 Small, Square Living Room, 2 Functional Solutions

In our “Layout Guides” series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. Often the trickiest part of designing a space, finding the right layout for your room can be a challenge. This week we’re diving into two solutions for a small, square living room layout.

 

Square Living Room

The Space: 13×18 small, square living room with lots of doors and windows

The Style: Mod Visionary

The Challenge: Turning the small, square living space into a comfortable and functional hangout space with plenty of seating

Square Living RoomIdea #1: The Conversational Layout

Layout idea #1 emphasizes using the small room as a space for conversation. This is a space meant for people to relax, mingle, chat and lounge together. There’s no TV in the room because it is geared toward having people interact. The cozy sectional sofa is also perfect for reading and snuggling. If you enjoy having friends over to hang out and talk or play games, try this layout in your space.

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Here’s why this small, square living room layout idea works.

Square Living RoomRoom to Chat

The sectional fits right into the square shape of the room, making it extra cozy, and ensuring there is plenty of seating for family and guests. The fireplace, while incorporated into seating area, is not the main focus of the room. There is easy flow into and through the room and storage tucked to the side against the unused wall keeps clutter out of sight!

This Is Great If You…

  • Love entertaining and prefer chatting and relaxing with guests over watching TV.
  • Want a cozy place for you and your family to gather and read, snuggle, or just kick back.
  • Love a neat and tidy home that’s comfy but uncluttered.
  • Want a space with a more grown-up aesthetic.

Square Living RoomIdea #2 – The TV Viewing Layout

This layout idea is all about optimizing the small space for TV viewing and comfortable lounging. Because the room is small, we swapped out the sectional for a cozy sofa that faces the TV to make it the focal point. There is a lot of flexibility to move stuff around and create extra seating so you’re never short on chairs when friends drop by.

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Here’s why this small, square living room layout idea works.

Optimal Functionality

If you like to watch TV, but don’t want that to be the only focus of the space, this layout gives you the best of both worlds. With a sofa placed directly across from the TV, but next to the fireplace, there are seats that work for whichever focal point you want to highlight. This layout is great if you like to watch Netflix but also host gatherings.

Square Living RoomSmall Space Solutions

In small spaces, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. In this room, we optimized the small, blank space between two doors with a mini cabinet for a TV set-up. The two poufs also add additional seating that doesn’t clutter up the room (and can even double as a footrest). Finally, the bookcases add vertical storage that makes the most out of a narrow wall space.

This Is Great If You…

  • Have a fireplace and a TV and want a layout that works for both.
  • Enjoy entertaining small groups and want extra seating.
  • Need a space that is compact but flexible with furnishings that are easy to move around.
  • Love a space that is clean and stylish with no clutter in sight.

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Crown Your Living Room: 3 Ideas for the Wall Above Your Sofa

Chic living room decor ideas

When designing your living room, as with life, there are very few things you can be sure of. Will the colors match? Will my bookcase fit through the door? The only thing you can really be sure of is that your living room will likely include a sofa and a blank wall.

What to do with this blank wall above your sofa can be a challenge. This is the focal point of the whole room, so you might be feeling like the pressure is on to get it just right. To help you feel inspired we rounded up three living room decor ideas for the wall above your sofa.

living room decor ideas

1. Hang One Bold Artwork

Give the “best seat in the house” to a big and bold artwork. This is a great way to add some drama to your space or showcase one fantastic piece of art.

We chose a dramatic, non-objective painting, Meditative Concentration 1 (Restoration Hardware). We love how the black and white pops against the gold Velvet Mina Sofa (Athropologie) and the square format draws your eye up, up, up!

living room decor ideas

2. Create a Gallery Wall

We love gallery walls. You can easily tailor them to fit your style, show off multiple pieces of art at once, and add to them as you grow your collection over time.

That said, a successful gallery wall should feel balanced. A good tip is to think about the overall composition first before you break out the hammer. Don’t feel like busting out the blue tape? Modsy can help you design your gallery wall before you pick up the hammer and nails.

Try mixing different frames and artwork sizes for a more eclectic look. Or, arrange your gallery wall as a grid or a more traditional and designed feel. Check out these 6 fresh ways to gallery wall. We opted for a variety of black and white artworks to give our gallery wall cohesion, while the different sizes and subjects keep your eye moving.

living room decor ideas

3. Make a Statement with a Mirror

Aside from your furniture, the most beautiful thing in your living room is going to be you. Ensure you (and everyone else) can catch a glimpse by hanging a large mirror above your sofa. This is especially great for small spaces, as the mirror will bounce light around and make your room feel open and airy.

Add some drama with an oversized mirror. We chose the Gleaming Primrose Mirror (Anthropologie). You can even place the mirror on the floor and lean it against the wall behind your sofa. This will add visual depth to your room and saves your walls from holes (a great option for all you renters out there).

Ready to crown your living room with something worth looking at?